American tenor Richard Leech is one of the most celebrated lyric tenors of his generation. In a performance career spanning more than four decades he has provided iconic interpretations of many of the most demanding and well-known roles of the Italian, French, and German repertoire both on disc and on the stages of the world's leading opera houses and symphonies from The Metropolitan Opera to Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Staatsoper and Philharmonic, to London’s Royal Opera at Covent Garden and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.
Mr. Leech is featured on more than twenty recordings in many of the roles for which he is so well known including Rodolfo in La Bohème, The Duke in Rigoletto, and Riccardo in Un ballo in Maschera, and his award-winning EMI recording of Gounod’s Faust with Michel Plasson among many others. His solo release from the heart, a collection of favorite Italian arias and songs, can be found on the Telarc label and his acclaimed Deutsche Oper Les Huguenots, on Arthaus DVD.
As a passionate teacher and mentor, Mr. Leech has worked extensively with aspiring artists at all levels of their development throughout his career. He is currently Associate Professor of Applied Voice and Opera for George Mason University’s Dewberry School of Music, and Stage Director for the Mason Opera Theater. He has also served on the faculties of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts; Rutgers Opera Institute; and The University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Director of Resident Artist Programs for Michigan Opera Theatre (now Detroit Opera) from 2015 -2021, Mr. Leech created the MOT Studio, the company’s first young artist program, offering full-time engagement, training, and experience to artists in the early stages of a professional career. In his leadership role with MOT, he also oversaw the company’s many education and community engagement initiatives.
Most well-known for his interpretation of such iconic roles as Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Don José, Edgardo, Pinkerton, Hoffmann, Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera, and Gounod’s Faust and Roméo, his repertoire of more than 40 roles also includes many works by American, Russian, Czech, and 20th-century composers. Roles added later in his career include Canio in I Pagliacci, Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana, Der Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Gregor in Janácek’s The Makropulos Case.
Following his 1987 European debut with Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, as Raoul in Les Huguenots, the headline of the Berliner Morgen Post read: “A World Star is Born” and true to its forecast, Mr. Leech had soon made debuts with virtually every major opera house of the world. Of his first performance with the Metropolitan Opera in 1989, as Rodolfo in La Bohème, Will Crutchfield of the New York Times wrote: “Other than Pavarotti on his best night, I can’t think of another tenor I’d rather hear in the part.” Since then, he has sung nearly 200 Met performances in more than a dozen leading roles.
In addition to the Met, he was also a frequent guest with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the opera companies of San Francisco, LA, Washington, San Diego, and Cincinnati, as well as many other important American companies. Internationally, he was often seen in Paris, London, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, and at La Scala in Milan where he had the honor of singing La Bohème with the great Mirella Freni. Other countries where he has performed include Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Cyprus, Japan, China, and South Korea.
In concert, Mr. Leech has distinguished himself with the Vienna, Prague, New York, Chicago, and LA Philharmonic Orchestras, and the National and Montréal Symphonies, among myriad others in repertoire such as Verdi’s Messa di requiem; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Missa Solemnis; Mahler’s 8th Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde; Berlioz’s Requiem and La Damnation de Faust; Rossini’s Stabat Mater; and Mozart’s: Requiem and Mass in C minor. In crossover repertoire, he has appeared with the Boston Pops, New York Pops, Cincinnati Pops, and with Doc Severinsen and his Orchestra. His critically acclaimed concert, An evening with Richard Leech in Tribute to Mario Lanza, in which he embraced the crossover style of his childhood hero, was the sell-out season opener for the New York Pops at prestigious Carnegie Hall, and opened Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival to an audience of over 12,000.
Mr. Leech was the 1988 winner of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, the recipient of The Voice Foundation’s Voice Education Research and Awareness (V.E.R.A.) Award, and the Giulio Gari Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award. He has been a frequent guest teacher and presenter of masterclasses for many institutions and companies such as USC, UCSD, Beijing School of Fine Arts, Opera Lyra Ottawa Young Artist Program, Binghamton University, The Castleton Festival’s Artist Training Seminar, the New York Singing Teachers Association’s Professional Development Program, and for the Prelude to Performance program of The Martina Arroyo Foundation on whose Advisory Board he serves. He attended Eastman School of Music and Binghamton University and credits his success to the training he received in the Tri-Cities Opera Resident Artist Training Program in Binghamton, NY under the long-term mentorship of the company’s founders, Peyton Hibbitt and Carmen Savoca.
Included in the long list of world class artists with whom he has collaborated are: James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Placido Domingo, George Prêtre, André, Previn, Michel Plasson, Seiji Ozawa, Richard Bonynge, Leonard Slatkin, Franco Zeffirelli, Götz Freidrich, Robert Wilson, Hal Prince, Ken Russell, Tito Copobianco, Lotfi Mansouri, Mirella Freni, Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Pilar Lorengar, Jesse Norman, Kiri Tekanawa, Reneé Fleming, Denyce Graves, Luciano Pavarotti, Alfredo Kraus, José van Dam, Bryn Terfel, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Hampson, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and many others.
Mr. Leech’s many televised appearances include Madama Butterfly with the Met; a “Live from Lincoln Center” Rigoletto with the New York City Opera; Les Huguenots with Deutsche Oper Berlin; and many other opera broadcasts in Europe and beyond, as well as his frequent appearances on the annual Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala. More popular events include the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, with President Clinton, where he performed with Aretha Franklin and Trisha Yearwood; the famous tree lighting at Rockefeller Center; and the opening ceremonies of the 1995 America’s Cup in San Diego. In benefit concerts, he has appeared with such show business luminaries as Tony Randal, Kelsey Grammer, Ben Vereen, Betty Buckley, and Peter Allen. He joined Placido Domingo in a benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief which marked the reopening of the arts in New Orleans.